This book is wonderful and you absolutely have to read it, and I say that as a man who has not been able to touch his toes for a decade and who flees for all mention of wellness like a startled horse. Writing this wonderful transcends such petty barriers.
I’m reluctant to go into specifics as I did not know what to expect and want you to feel what I felt as this unfurled before me. But one passage stands out so much that I need to talk about it, so I will make an exception.
Towards the end of the book, a piece of music is mentioned and viewed in text as a Youtube video. This video exists and we are none too subtly nudged towards watching it ourselves (this sort of audience participation would normally be met with a steely indifference from me, but Carrère had me in the palm of my hand at this point, I would have given him a major organ had he suggested it). Watching this clip alongside the author, and it really does feel like that, was one of the single greatest literary experiences of my life, a perfect few minutes. There is magic in these pages.
I love the indiscipline of this, the honesty, the divine humanness of it all. The best book I have read so far this year.
An arresting and deeply contemplative self-portrait of a man forced to face himself anew as tragic events unfold in his life, Yoga is a powerful and revelatory memoir from the acclaimed author of The Adversary.
This is a book about yoga. Or at least, it was.
January 2015. High on literary success and familial bliss, Emmanuel Carrere embarks on a rigorous ten-day meditative retreat in rural France in search of clarity and material for his next book, which he thinks will be a subtle, upbeat introduction to yoga. But his trip is cut short, and he is brought down to earth with a thud as he returns to a Paris in turmoil in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.
From then on, Carrere’s life begins to unravel, along with his novel-in-progress. He is diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder and is sectioned to a psychiatric hospital for a four-month stint, where he is subject to electroshock therapy. His marriage crumbles, he is struck by grief at the death of a close friend and is haunted by a love affair with a mysterious woman who disappeared from his life. Pushed to the edge of sanity and forced to reckon with his identity as a man and a writer, Carrere sets out on a life of action instead of meditation.
This is a book that embraces the Yin and Yang of life: the pull between life and death, desire and despair, presence and absence, fight and flight. It is a book about a world and a man in tumult, and about how surprisingly far practising meditation – and writing about it – can take us in life. With raw honesty and humour, Yoga gives us the self-portrait of a man struggling to live with himself and others, by one of our greatest and most surprising international writers.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 437 g
Dimensions: 222 x 144 x 31 mm